INTRAVENAL SOUND OPERATIONS
A noisy soprano sfogato of the highest order, a frightening political agitator in defense of HIV/AIDS victims, the mentally ill, and those who live unjustly, Diamanda Galás has no equal when it comes to haunting, long-form vocal poems and uncompromising performance art. I can recall every heartbeat, howl, and scream of her 1990 Plague Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, the product of a woman gut shot by the angel of death who claimed so many lives in accordance with the government’s ignorance of AIDS care.
Think the soundtrack to every Dario Argento Italian giallo film run through with a manic Maria Callas, The Birthday Party, and William S. Burroughs’ Cities of the Red Night and that is but the tip of the iceberg in trying to describe what Galás does.
As a pillar of the avant-garde, still, in 2022, Galás has neither mellowed or pulled back when it comes to rage on the two extended tracks that fill Broken Gargoyles. Devils with necks like giraffes, newborns with no head, great demons swelling to monstrous heights, and earthquakes that set the planet’s fires alight (images wheezed and barked by Galás in accordance with German poet Georg Heym’s texts from “Das Fieberspital” and “Die Dämonen der Stadt”) line the minimalist, grumbling, low-end piano-laden score and its grandly arching horrorcore melodies.
While the album’s first long, repetitive track “Mutilatus” peers into a soldier’s suffering until Galás’ cackle-howl reaches a fever pitch, Broken Gargoyles’ second half, “Abiectio,” starts with a thunderous mix of piano, sound effects, and synth squeals and allows the vocalist a foothold on every step of Hell’s seven rings. Or is that Earth that she’s lamenting?
Brutal music not for the faint of heart or those with little attention span. Diamanda Galás is worth every moment of your time.